Star Trek: Enterprise Writer/Co-Executive Producer Manny Coto gave his best effort to try to save the show, and even though Enterprise ended prematurely, Coto is proud of his work.
Coto shared memories of his first impression of Brannon Braga, his favorite show, trying to make a William Shatner guest appearance happen, and the controversial Enterprise finale.
When Coto arrived for work the first day, he saw Braga in his office. “Brannon (Braga) was in his office, standing at the window, smoking a cigarette and looking desperate, like everything was falling apart,” said Coto. “They were in a hole, script-wise, and I really got the sense that Brannon was kind of at the end of his rope, so to speak, as far as getting scripts. So it was an interesting sense of ‘Wow, desperation, this is either going to work well or it’s going to be a disaster.’ But I’ll never forget Brannon standing at the window, staring out glassy-eyed.”
Coto wrote or co-wrote fourteen episodes, including the well-received Similitude. “I’m very proud of Similitude,” he said. “I watched that again recently because I did the commentary for the Blu-ray. I was very pleased with how that held up. To me, that was a very good Star Trek premise. It had an idea that could only be done in a science-fiction context. It’s not science-fiction in the sense of cowboys in space, but it’s actually the question of ‘What if an individual can be grown in seven days? And what if that individual could then be harvested to help another individual?’ I thought it presented a fascinating dilemma and a great opportunity for drama.”
Fans may not know that William Shatner was under consideration for a guest star role in the Mirror Universe series of episodes. “Shatner would have played his Kirk counterpart from the Mirror Universe, which is a whole other story,” said Coto. “We talked to Shatner and he was ready to do it. I thought that would have had a chance of really popping in the ratings and maybe opening up a new audience to come in and say, ‘Hey, wow, look what this show is doing now.’ Paramount wouldn’t pay the money, and so that never happened. …The Shatner idea was one small way to maybe bring in a new audience or bring back our old audience.”
Fans were lukewarm to say the least when it came to These are the Voyages, the series finale. But Coto explained that this show was meant to be the finale to all eighteen years of Star Trek, not just Enterprise, and that the two shows before it, Demons and Terra Prime, make up the true finale to Enterprise. “I really liked those episodes. My heart was really in that because I felt it was a fitting end for the series,” said Coto. “The show ended up coming back to Earth and to our solar system, and the idea was that humanity still had one hurdle to go through, and that was a part of humanity was not accepting of aliens and aliens on our world, because some people felt we were being corrupted. We had to exorcise our last vestige of xenophobia. I thought it was a really fitting end for Enterprise because one of the basic tenets of Star Trek is Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. This was a way to address that idea, that we’d not quite reached there yet.
“You had a character played by Peter Weller who wanted aliens to leave the Earth and was against co-mingling with aliens. And we ended with a wonderful speech by Captain Archer and a wonderful performance by Scott Bakula in front of the nascent Federation, which kind of laid down the idea for Star Trek. It basically said that despite the myriad species we’re all the same and we all share the same heart. I remember being there on that day for the shooting of that. We knew at that point that this was the last season, so it was particularly touching to know that this was a fitting finale, as I saw it, for the show.
“I’m not saying that to deride These Are the Voyages… We – Brannon and Rick [Berman] and I – always looked at Demons and Terra Prime as the finale for Enterprise, and These Are the Voyages… was intended to be a finale for the entire eighteen-year run of Star Trek, starting with Next Gen all the way to Enterprise. That’s how it was looked at.”
Coto is currently working on 24: Live Another Day, a twelve-episode series which airs May 5 on FOX.